May 27, 2021

15 Employee Recognition And Appreciation Ideas

Go back to the time before you hit it big. 

What’s one thing that drove you to strive for excellence when you were just a regular member of the staff?

For most people, the motivation comes from the desire to get recognized for a job well done. Otherwise, it would be pointless to put in the effort day in, day out with nothing to gain. 

As a leader, you’ve already gone through what they did. Use your experience to encourage them to achieve more. Your relationship with your employees should embody trust, commitment, and support. 

We all know that it’s a valid reason to leave our jobs because of a toxic environment or manipulative leader.  If that’s not the case where you work, then there should be no reason why employee recognition is not part of your employee satisfaction strategy.

Include both monetary and non-monetary rewards as part of your employee recognition strategy Let them know that they are appreciated by their peers and management because it gives them a sense of belonging to the organization.

As an employee, it is your responsibility to give 100 percent every day so you should also be aware of the following employee appreciation ideas for business owners. It’s not about being overly generous but striking a balance between company profit and employee satisfaction. 

employee recognition

How can you make employees stay longer and give their best to your organization?

Short answer: Employee recognition. It’s the foundation of loyalty and dedication. If you’re a business owner, having an employee recognition program will go a long way.

If employee retention is a problem for you, then you’re losing money when they leave. It’s not just about paying them more or giving them benefits. In order to retain the best talent, it is important to acknowledge their achievements and contributions.

Employee recognition can be divided into two: individual and group employee recognition. What’s the difference?

Individual employee recognition is for expressing gratitude to an employee for doing something good, like submitting an excellent report or helping out with a heavy task that no one else wanted to do. You can choose to recognize them through simple words of appreciation, rewards, or having lunch together.

Group employee recognition is for recognizing employees for doing something good as a team. This employee recognition idea is best used when there’s a very positive outcome that was achieved by two or more people working together.


Related Article: Transformational Leadership — Building Leaders Who Build The Future


What Are Good Ways To Recognize Employees?


Employee recognition is an ideal way of acknowledging your staff for exemplary performance. Common reasons for giving kudos to an employee are:


  • hitting the sales target
  • make a customer happy
  • simply being diligent at work


Essentially, the goal of employee recognition is to motivate your staff, boost morale, reinforce positive behaviors, and recognize best practices that will contribute to your business’ success (not to mention—their personal success). 

Employee motivation is the key to employee engagement. And employee engagement is what helps you retain quality employees for a long time, which will allow you to develop your business further.

There are a hundred different ways to make your employees feel valued. But in this article, we’ve highlighted 15 great employee recognition ideas that can help you commend your staff for a job well done. 

employee recognition
employee recognition

1. Bonuses and Incentives

This type of employee appreciation is probably the most common way to reward employees.

When you hear bonuses and incentives, it’s almost always synonymous with money. Think: Christmas bonus. But there are other special occasions where you can give your employees a monetary stimulus. For instance, when you see everyone working together to hit the monthly sales target and successfully pull it off, there’s no better time to share the success with them. 

It’s also a great idea to give bonuses to an employee who has been with you for years. Loyalty deserves a reward, after all.

Throwing a little money at your employees is an easy way to reward them for their hard work.

For example, you can offer cash bonuses as part of the bonus program that’s been in place as an annual incentive. Or you can increase commission rates as a short-term award for hitting their sales targets or achieving a quarterly goal .rowing a little money at your employees is an easy way to reward them for their hard work.

Tip: Incentives don’t always have to be monetary. You can present company giveaways, such as tees and tokens (pens, notebooks, mugs, bags, and more). Or if you’re feeling generous—a trip to the Bahamas. 


2. Employee Recognition Programs and Events


Recognition programs are pretty standard for companies. You can give awards for Employee of the Month, Quarter, or Year. It doesn’t have to be company-wide. You can have one for each department. Aside from recognition programs, you may also hold events where your employees can have fun and get away from the daily hustle. These can be company anniversaries, birthday celebrations, new additions to the organization, and other special life occasions.  

Office parties are a great way of celebrating success within the company- one that all employees can enjoy together, after a long hard day’s work. You might have one for Christmas or just when you hit a milestone in business growth. Here are some ideas for throwing an

It’s also a good idea to reward your leaders. Try having a separate award for your leaders, such as Supervisor of the Month, Quarter, or Year. Cast the votes around your employees based on specific criteria. It’s a fairer game than taking it upon yourself to choose the winner.

If you want to boost morale and get your employees involved, we recommend creating a recognition event. It’s an opportunity for everyone in the office to participate in a friendly competition where they can vote for their favorite colleagues. They nominate the individuals who go above and beyond in achieving team goals, winning clients, or simply being a pleasure to work with—no matter what department they’re from.  


3. Certificates and Gift Cards

Certificates and gift cards are a great way to show employee appreciation. Certificates can be given for employee of the month, an employee of the year, or just to recognize employee performance. Gift cards can be given for any special occasion or simply to say thank you.

A certificate of appreciation is just as good as any other form of recognition—and chances are, your employees will appreciate receiving both! So why not give certificates to recognize milestones or special occasions? ards and tokens as part of employee appreciation aren’t as common as certificates or cash. However, some companies do offer cards or gift vouchers as recognition rewards for hard work and good service.

There are a number of kinds of certificates or gifts you can hand out to your employees. From providing free lunches to having them enjoy a day off during the weekend, these are small gestures that could go a long way in showing how much you appreciate their efforts. You can also give them away when they reach certain goals throughout the year, such as signing up new clients, completing training courses, staying late at night during crunch time, etc.  

Certificates may vary based on performance, behavior, and years of service. Here are some examples of award titles for each category: 

Performance-based Certificates

  • Employee of the Month/Quarter/Year
  • Best Customer Centricity
  • The Star Employee
  • Stand Out Performer

Behavior-based Certificates

  • Best Team Member
  • Best Attendance Award
  • The Employee Engagement Champion
  • The Social Contributor Award

Service-based Certificates

  • Outstanding Service Record
  • Company Excellence Award 
  • The Collared Diamond
  • Salute to Loyalty
  • Service Anniversaries 
employee recognition

You can couple these certificates with a gift card—a simple but meaningful reward. You may give a free movie ticket for 2, grocery shopping worth $200, or a $100 restaurant meal gift card. Aside from certificates, some companies give a plaque for work anniversaries. This kind of recognition isn’t expensive at all, but it contributes to employee satisfaction a lot. 

4. Positive Feedback

Giving your employees positive feedback is one way of encouraging them to do their best for the company. Positive feedback can be very short, but it doesn’t have to be—you can deliver it any way you want as long as it shows your employees that you notice their efforts.

For example, if an employee has been working overtime several days in a row, consider thanking him or her on behalf of the entire team. You could send out an email praising the employee on his or her commitment to getting things done despite work pressure. Sending personalized messages on social media accounts may also help spread this message further and make more people aware of what they are doing.

You can also provide positive feedback in person or through a group setting. You could do it during the company meeting, at the end of a training course, or after an important milestone is achieved. In general, you should aim to give as many small but meaningful compliments as possible—this helps keep up morale and makes employees feel good about being part of your team.

employee recognition
employee recognition

5. Value-Based Rewards

Some of the behavioral assessments that you include are personality, work ethics, punctuality, and how employees handle a crisis or major project. 

It may be a familiar opinion, but let’s reiterate the fact that behavior says a lot about how employees deliver customer service and act around your business partners. 

In most companies and businesses, employees want to feel valued and appreciated. They want to know that their efforts and contributions aren’t going unnoticed—that the time they spend at work has a purpose behind it. Luckily for you, there are many ways you can show them how much you value what they do on a daily basis.

One of the most popular ways is by offering bonuses or extra incentives—for example, through sales contests. Just be careful not to go overboard with this type of reward system; if overdone, it will only end up being more frustrating than anything else (and could also backfire). Instead, consider rewarding achievement and progress with some sort of tangible value-based prize like:

Like we’ve said before: employee rewards can be based on behavior or value. Leaders can select an exemplary team member. In return, team members can also choose the best leader in their department. Not only will it make your staff engaged with each other, but it’s also an effective way to strengthen your company values and establish peer recognition. 

6. Public Recognition

Having this as an employee recognition platform can be effective when done correctly. Make sure to keep positive comments public and reward the person in front of their colleagues either through a simple shout-out or during a staff meeting.

Recognizing a top talent in front of other employees is a good way to encourage everyone. 

Not only will it make the recognized staff happy, but it will also encourage other employees to work harder. 

Commendations, thank you cards, or gifts are all ways to keep public recognition from being intrusive. For example, if a member of the team did an exceptional job on an assignment and impressed a client, it’s always nice to send a thank you note or give that person a gift card for their hard work. It sends the message that this person went above and beyond expectations and was recognized for doing so.

Recognizing employees is one of the most effective ways to improve employee morale—but it isn’t just about giving them something in return; it’s also about fostering good working relationships within your company. Make sure to prioritize these connections because building healthy connections between managers/leaders and team members

7. Dinner Treats

If know your staff members well, you can choose to do something like surprising them with dinner or drinks at the end of a long work week.

It’s one of the simplest ways for managers and executives to show appreciation towards employees, but it doesn’t always have to be expensive; doing something cheap every once in a while will make all the difference.

If you want to motivate your employees further (or thank them for their hard work), ask if they would like you to take care of their meal next time instead. This way, they may feel freer during future staff meetings—and allow themselves to say whatever is on their mind without feeling obliged.

The fact that it's so simple makes this its own reward.

If you’re having dinner with a team, then it’s a hangout. But if you want to show appreciation to a particular employee, you have to take them on a professional date—a little one-on-one if you will. 

Dinner treats are a good way to talk with your staff personally. It feels more natural and memorable at the same time. Sometimes, employee recognition doesn’t have to be all serious. In fact, it’s much better if you make it more spontaneous and casual. 

employee recognition

8. Experiential Incentives

Experiential incentives can be especially useful when employees feel stuck in a rut. Although it’s not likely something you will use on a daily basis, it’s always nice to know that this option is available if needed.

If you want to keep things interesting and also motivate employees at the same time, then experiential incentives are definitely worth considering as an alternative method of employee recognition. Examples could include: spa days with the manager or CEO; buffet breakfasts; dinner and a show; tickets to sporting events; weekend getaways (including airfare and hotel); and so much more depending on your company size and budget. The idea is simple: do whatever inspires happiness for your staff members. This type of recognition program could also do wonders for an employee's mental health.

It can be adventure rides, skydiving, hotel stay, or amusement park visits.

Unfortunately, experiential incentives can be costly. You should leave it for your top performers and major accomplishments because this type of recognition is a big reward.

employee recognition

9. Social Media Praise

If you have a more active social media presence, then offering public praise is an excellent way to recognize employees on those platforms as well.

Employees will appreciate being recognized in more than one medium. Social media outlets are especially popular with younger generations these days, so it’s important to acknowledge them where they spend most of their time—just remember that not everyone has a social media account. Even if your company couldn’t benefit from this recognition method at the moment, it never hurts to have multiple channels available just in case you want to switch things up later on.

Posting a photo of you together with an uplifting message won’t go unnoticed. You can also tag them with inspirational or motivational quotes. 

But the best way you can approach this is by leaving a recommendation on their LinkedIn account, which helps them build credibility and a stellar professional record. 

10. Recognition Wall

If you can come up with a birthday corner in your organization, you can surely put up a recognition wall (AKA the Wall of Fame) for your employees. 

Simple ways like encouraging everyone to write congratulatory messages to their coworkers and posting them can go a long way to making employees feel appreciated. It will impart a sense of belongingness to any employee. 

Get creative and use sticky notes, colored pens, or even cute stickers. You may also have a special board for displaying framed certificates of exemplary employees and company achievements. 

This is one of the easier employee appreciation programs that you can implement. 

11. Free Wellness Program

Providing an opportunity for employees to improve their health and well-being is an excellent way to promote happiness at work. Your company will be awed by the results! If you want to go beyond just physical activity-related perks, then consider including stress-buster activities like yoga workshops, massages during working hours, meditation classes, etc. Physical fitness should also be encouraged outside office hours. The more active your staff members are, the more productive they will be during regular work hours as well.

If you aren’t aware of it yet, more and more companies are offering wellness programs for their employees, such as regular visits to the gym or a monthly yoga session.

Like experiential incentives, a free wellness program is a huge investment. However, it can be a great benefit for employees working in big corporations. 

12. Team Building

These events are some of the most common ways to show appreciation for employees. It’s important to keep in mind that not everyone is on board with team-building activities, so if you run these types of programs, be sure that they are voluntary. You can also mix up the initiative by arranging occasional outings with your team members outside of work hours. Before you schedule any activity for your employees, try taking them out on a group date night.

Team buildings are also a great way to strengthen company core values, build relationships and teach company culture. 

Try hosting a sports festival. Create teams for basketball, football, or volleyball. If you don’t have enough staff members on budget for something big, you can achieve the same through organizing physical games, such as tug-of-war, egg drop, watch your step, penny for your thoughts, and etc. 

And hey, don’t forget fun mental games can be chess or scrabble. If you don’t want that extra stimulus, playing table games keeps employees engaged and doesn’t require too much fuss to pull off.

When done right, team buildings improve the most important teamwork dynamics—trust, communication, and cooperation. It’s a great way to promote bonding and engagement between team members. 

employee recognition

13. Training Opportunities

This brings us to the next topic of appreciation, which is rewarding your employees with advancement opportunities. Before you send them off for training courses or workshops, encourage them to do something that will open their mind and set them up for future success.

If you want to go beyond just promoting professional development, try offering time off for staff members’ personal projects. This can help boost employee morale tremendously since they are given the freedom to work on something they are truly passionate about--whether it's an extracurricular activity, community service opportunity, or another awesome experience outside of work hours. 

Training brings many benefits to employees by improving morale and helping with job satisfaction. As a matter of fact, 87% of millennials consider development a crucial part of the workplace. It also increases employees' productivity and efficiency of employees.

It helps them get to know their job better and excel in their field. Or, in some cases, widen their horizon by trying out a new role. 

Hold job seminars, career development forums, promotions, job transfers, and coaching opportunities. It might require investing extra effort and time, but it’s a surefire way to achieve employee retention and business growth. 

14. Birthday Incentives

It feels great when someone remembers their birthday, so try throwing a surprise party for your employees on their special day. It can be small—cake and refreshments with some family members—or big, with a few activities planned to liven up the mood. 

Birthdays are a time for cake or ice cream with coworkers at work or after hours. Birthdays give an opportunity to celebrate people doing well in their workplace. This motivates them even more because they have done well throughout the year and now they get this chance to celebrate that success together.  Birthdays are always special, and they become more meaningful when celebrated with genuine people. 

Probably the best birthday incentive that you can give to your employee is paid time off. Let them have intimate time with their loved ones while still enjoying a regular salary. 

If your staff is celebrating in the office, you can give them little surprises by decorating their workspace or organizing a team birthday lunch. Like public recognition, birthday incentives don’t have to be extra. As the popular saying goes, “it’s the thought that counts.”

15. Other Work-Related Support

We’ve already talked about monetary incentives, dinner treats, and special events. 

But the best company wouldn’t miss out on the basic job support for employees. It’s one of the most effective employee appreciation ideas. Examples are free transportation, a free meal, or a food truck at the workplace. 

Free transportation is one of the most significant benefits for employees. It allows them to commute to work without having to worry about costly gas, parking fees, or public transit passes.

For companies with employees working from home, an accessible and inexpensive dormitory is also a viable option. You're conveying your care for your employees not just professionally but also as a family by providing the fundamentals.

Key Takeaway

Employee recognition should always be a part of your company culture. Sure, hitting sales targets and achieving customer satisfaction are fulfilling. However, employees put more value on good internal relationships. Your employees are the ones who make your brand reputable, and it's time they receive their dues for that hard work. 

Employees working in a positive and motivating environment have higher productivity, which leads to better revenue for the company. Empowering them with amenities and perks will also help you retain existing talent and attract new, skilled workers.

Having a successful employee recognition program makes your employees feel valued for their great work, which positively impacts their attitude and behavior. It makes them feel that they’re part of the business’ success, which in turn would contribute to your company’s further growth—which is one of the many benefits of employee recognition.

Hopefully, this list of 15 employee appreciation ideas helps you come up with your own ways to retain and motivate the team. How will your business show appreciation this year? And if you’re already planning on it, try adding some of these activities to your calendar. It can be as easy as giving out lunch vouchers or taking employees out for a fun day.


Are you looking for ways to improve how you run your business? We can help. Drop us a line now! 

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